• Dr. iur. Vadim Mantrov University of Latvia



street art, graffiti, street artist, authors’ law (copyright), vandalism (hooliganism)


Street art (covering all street art types including graffiti) is considered as one of expressions of urban life and, simultaneously, one of peculiar intellectual creations. For years, street art was not recognised as a type of art and was usually subject to public condemnation, but street artists were (and still are) subject to liability arising from vandalism (hooliganism) acts. However, attitude against street art and its different expressions has been changing in recent years becoming recognised and valued as a specific type of modern art. This shift has been influenced by visual attractiveness of different creations of street art mainly murals containing graffiti; commencement of commercialisation of street art including sale of murals embodying graffiti at auctions; and court disputes over protection of street art expressions. Street art including graffiti may be subject to legal protection, yet it depends on a particular jurisdiction. The aim of the present article is to consider possibility of protection of street art in Latvia from the perspective of authors’ law (i.e. copyright) law. This paper discusses specific issues in relation to street art for its protection within Latvian authors’ law such as authorship as street artists usually create street art expressions anonymously; the concept of work by discussing compliance with criteria put forward to a work under authors’ law; integrity of a work as street art expressions such as graffiti are usually murals involving a clash between property law and authors’ law; distinction of street art from pure vandalism; and necessity for specific rules addressing specific nature of street art. The paper provides conclusions for identifying proper place of street art within legal framework of Latvian authors’ law.


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